Holly Elander and Christine Rasmussen at Launch

Dream-like Works by Holly Elander and Christine Rasmussen

through March 3
Launch LA, Los Angeles

By Genie Davis
At Launch LA through March 3rd, two solo artists offer three series of dream-like works that vibrate with tension and beauty.

Christine Rasmussen’s “Fenomenal” depicts empty, angular urban landscapes that shimmer with light. Into these scenes, she introduces feminine garments and fabrics that appear to have escaped the captivity of their wearer. They fly like birds, soar like kites, as fluttering and soft as the landscapes they populate are hard. The overall feeling of these works is that the feminine fabrics are the embodiment of freedom, the soft spirit in a constrained and geometric landscape. While uniquely representational, Rasmussen’s work also has an abstract quality. Her color palette evokes Southern California, the southwest, the luminous yet bleached sunlight of a summer morning. The series was inspired by a Maya Angelou poem, Phenomenal Woman. Echoing the poem, “…When you see me passing/ It ought to make you proud,” there is that same pride and fierceness in Rasmussen’s work, a defiance in those oh-so-feminine garments flying by faster than you can catch them.

Christine Rasmussen, detail, I Try to Show Them. “Fenomenal”, Launch LA; Photo courtesy Christine Rasmussen

Holly Elander presents works from two separate series, “Solitary Shadows” and “Their Home”. Solitary Shadows is all shadows and silences, connected by the ellipses of untold thoughts and the sensation of mysterious, magical wonder. Fused in a noir color palette, these are contemplative, shining works, perfectly wrought, beautiful and faintly ominous night views of Los Angeles alleys, corners, neighborhoods, and homes. The shadows of palms form lacey patterns on white walls illuminated by a front door light; the thin shadow of a telephone wire slices the building. Tree branches and leaves hang like a dark promise across the side of two small homes, the shadows seeming to compete for presence on both structures. Elander says that she strolled streets and alleys finding quiet and color in the rich and fecund darkness. Each work is moody and tense, yet also infused with a kind of peace. The artist describes her work here as world building, and indeed, it is a livable, even transcendent space that she has carved out of the night shadows. The darkness is there, but embracing it, we come home. The darkness has its own secret light and illumination.

From Genie (20)

Holly Elander, “Solitary Shadows” and “Their Home”, Launch LA; Photo credit Genie Davis

And speaking of home, there is Elander’s other series, “Their Home”. Her works here are lighter in palette and decidedly whimsical, featuring animals in beautifully detailed, bright domestic settings. Charming and startling at the same time, Elander says she is creating a tribute to the animals that have visited her home throughout the years, a raccoon, a snake, coyotes, ducks. Her childhood home was of mid-century modern design, and that is the setting of these pieces, spacious and open, wall-less, a stage-set brought to life. The animals interact with the design of the home; a lion lounging on a couch; coyotes ready to welcome guests to a dining room; raccoon examining a potted plant. The connection between man, nature, and the world we share has an innate tension. Viewers are startled to see these animals inside a home – just as the animals must experience surprise at having such a location in their midst. Both loving and edgy, “Their Home” is sweet and rich, without being the least bit cloying. Completely different – except in the artist’s detailed, perfect execution – both of Elander’s series are riveting.

Holly Elander, "Solitary Shadows" and "Their Home", Launch LA; Photo credit Genie Davis

Holly Elander, “Solitary Shadows” and “Their Home”, Launch LA; Photo credit Genie Davis

Paired with Rasmussen’s work, the gallery space has transformed itself into a purveyor of dreams, the delightful and slightly surreal, the obsidian depths of night and roving shadows, and the sunlit geometry of an urban landscape where silky cloths fly free.

Spiritual and lovely works, stepping into these artist’s dreams is an experience to be savored.

Launch LA
170 South La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA
launchla.org

 

 

 

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